I’ve been gam­ing for quite some time now (23 years to be exact) and I’ve seen all the ups and downs you could imag­ine. I’ve played through mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions of con­soles, dealt with game-break­ing bugs and glitch­es for years, wit­nessed the begin­ning of the tox­ic com­mu­ni­ties for ear­li­est online mul­ti­play­er games, the start of micros­trans­ac­tions .…. but what’s hap­pen­ing now, is too much for me. 

In my ear­li­er years as a gamer, I saw the com­pa­nies that pro­vid­ed my enjoy­ment as some almighty, omnipo­tent beings, pos­sess­ing some pow­er I wish I under­stood. How­ev­er, that time has passed. 

I’m no longer a child with a sil­ly imag­i­na­tion and the gam­ing indus­try is now a mul­ti-bil­lion dol­lar, a year, mak­ing machine. With titles like Red Dead Redemp­tion 2, which floods the gam­ing world quick­er than a virus, it’s easy to see why peo­ple are attract­ed to high qual­i­ty titles. This is both good and bad. We get great titles, but we get the bugs and deal­ing with the devel­op­ers (who hon­est­ly don’t like deal­ing with us either).

It does run deep­er than that, how­ev­er. Every­one in the com­mu­ni­ty is at fault. The pub­lish­ers and play­ers for push­ing devel­op­ers to release a game that’s not ready, pub­lish­ers and devel­op­ers for being far too greedy and play­ers for not speak­ing up. It’s become a vicious cycle, one that does­n’t seem to be near any sort of end. Throw in the micro­trans­ac­tions and the lack of respect (on both sides), you could be look­ing at a nev­er end­ing battle. 

As of late, it appears to be get­ting worse. Bethes­da, acknowl­edged a fault with their Pow­er Armor Edi­tions of Fall­out 76. Peo­ple who pur­chased the $200 edi­tion were unhap­py with a bag that came with it (wrong bag). Bethes­das response may have done them more harm than good.

They sim­ply stat­ed, “We are sor­ry,” here’s 500 Atoms (the games pre­mi­um cur­ren­cy) that’s worth a whole whop­ping five dol­lars. How­ev­er, because it’s not even a phys­i­cal item, it costs Bethes­da absolute­ly noth­ing to give away. It’s bad busi­ness prac­tice on Bethes­da’s part and it’s made waves. Some peo­ple have announced they’re going to stop defend­ing the com­pa­nies actions, or just quit buy­ing their games altogether. 

Some PC play­ers have even con­tact­ed an attor­ney, who has launched an inves­ti­ga­tion into Bethes­da’s refund pol­i­cy. Appar­ent­ly, these play­ers felt the game was too bugged and glitchy to be playable, there­fore they’ll get noth­ing out of it. 

It’s not just Bethes­da at fault. A lot of gam­ing com­pa­nies are start­ing to feel a lit­tle elit­ist. Just in the last year, many pub­lish­ers have been attach­ing ear­ly access to every game that hits the shelf. That’s only if you pur­chase that title’s spe­cial edi­tions. Pay extra, get extra. I under­stand business. 

How­ev­er, this would­n’t be such an annoy­ance if it stayed to sin­gle-play­er games exclu­sive­ly. Shad­ow of the Tomb Raider gave a full extra 48 hours for peo­ple who bought spe­cial edi­tions. There’s no mul­ti­play­er, so no big deal. Then big pub­lish­ers like EA and 2K, decid­ed these extra days of play­time should include mul­ti­play­er. This prob­lem is per­pet­u­at­ed by ear­ly access mem­ber­ships, like EA Access and Xbox Game Pass. 

Those who bought Bat­tle­field 5’s Deluxe Edi­tion had a full week to play online. This is unfair. If you still paid the $60 for a brand new title, you should­n’t be shut out from the game just  because you did­n’t spend $100 or more. Con­sid­er­ing that some peo­ple can only real­ly afford a few games a year, it’s unrea­son­able to play favoritism. All fans of these games deserve an equal shot.

Rock­star may not have been try­ing to play favorites with how they released Red Dead Online, but an attempt at keep­ing their servers from burn­ing to the ground. It’s still the prin­ci­ple of the mat­ter, though. Why should Ulti­mate Edi­tion own­ers get a day head start? Is it real­ly so much about mon­ey, that the cus­tomers hap­pi­ness is put on the back burner? 

Red Dead Online’s release sched­ule felt a bit elit­ist. Ulti­mate Edi­tions went first, fol­lowed by play­ers who played open­ing night, then play­ers that start­ed the game on open­ing week­end and final­ly, every­one else. Here’s my prob­lem with that: peo­ple have lives. They have to work, they have kids, they have social events to attend. It’s like Rock­star say­ing, “Thanks for buy­ing our game, but you could­n’t get time to play it launch day, so you have to wait up to 3 days to get online. Enjoy!” 

It’s not just ear­ly access. Micro­trans­ac­tions (which are heav­i­ly pushed), a lack of con­tent (cer­tain titles), game­break­ing glitch­es and bugs that don’t get fixed for sev­er­al months, com­mu­ni­ca­tion between con­sumer and cor­po­ra­tion is slim to none and if you have end up not enjoy­ing a game, good luck get­ting your mon­ey back. 

That’s anoth­er prob­lem in itself. For every­thing else you buy in life, if you don’t like the prod­uct, you can return it. Here’s the catch with games. If you’ve opened a phys­i­cal copy, don’t expect to get a refund. If you bought a dig­i­tal copy, no refund. The only guar­an­teed time you get a refund is if the phys­i­cal game you bought is unopened. Games are  expen­sive. Buy­ing even one game with all its DLC can cost you up to $100 — $120. 

If you end up no lik­ing the game, you should be able to return it. There should be a sys­tem like, as long as your return was in an allot­ted time frame. Just enough days to give you a taste of what the title has to offer, but not enough to allow you to com­plete it all the way through. 

How­ev­er, no mat­ter what way you look at it, the gam­ing com­mu­ni­ty is suf­fer­ing from the lack of respect between the play­ers and the devs/publishers. Com­mon sense with­in these cor­po­ra­tions is, basi­cal­ly, non-exis­tent. With­out each oth­er, none of us would be here. They need us to make mon­ey, we need them for entertainment. 

In the end, there real­ly isn’t much the gamers can do. We could not buy any games, or protest hard­er when it’s nec­es­sary. Maybe demand that the com­pa­nies are account­able for games that release entire­ly bro­ken. Just adjust­ing the refund pol­i­cy would make a big dif­fer­ence. Right now, any­thing they do to bet­ter the messed up rela­tion­ship we are in, is bet­ter than noth­ing. From where I’m sit­ting, I just see it get­ting worse and worse, until one side breaks.